Superbug Candida auris found in Massachusetts and more than half of U.S. states
AMHERST, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - There are concerns about a deadly fungal disease that is rapidly spreading across the country with cases in Massachusetts.
The potentially deadly Candida auris fungus is a yeast that can enter the bloodstream and cause rapid infections throughout the body. It has been found in 29 states across the U.S. including two cases in Massachusetts and it has experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concerned.
Dr. Erika Hamilton, director of microbiology laboratory teaching service at UMass Amherst, told Western Mass News that people who lead relatively healthy lives have little risk of contracting the fungal infection. However, those who are immunocompromised or hospitalized have a different challenge entirely.
“The people who catch it are already so sick that it can be hard to determine what you’re infected with when you’re already so critically ill,” Hamilton said.
Once candida auris enters the bloodstream, it is hard to detect as it goes on to cause infections throughout the body. Hamilton said while normally fungal infections are treatable, candida auris is able to resist many forms of available treatment.
“There aren’t that many antifungal drugs on the market anyway and the ones that we do have are not working as well as we would like against this particular fungus, so it makes it really difficult to treat,” Hamilton added.
Efforts are now underway to stop this fungus from becoming a widespread problem in the Bay State. Occupational Health and Safety Nurse Christine Pontus with the Massachusetts Nursing Association told Western Mass News that screening patients at hospitals and other healthcare facilities could be the best way to keep infection counts low.
“If we can screen patients and isolate them too when they come in if there are any signs of it, that would be one of the best protections,” Pontus said.
While the fungus is being found mainly in hospitals, the CDC advised simple things like handwashing and good hygiene practices are viable ways to keep the infection from spreading.
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